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Anthony Castonzo and Mark Herzlich headline BC pro day

03.23.11 at 3:18 pm ET
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Offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo and linebacker Mark Herzlich headlined a group of almost 40 area college football prospects who worked out at Boston College pro day on Wednesday afternoon under the practice bubble at Alumni Stadium.

Under the watchful eye of scouts and coaches from 17 different teams ‘€” including Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia ‘€” prospects from Boston College, Harvard, UMass, Holy Cross and UNH, as well as several other schools were put through a series of drills, including the 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill, shuttle runs and blocking and receiving drills.

Castonzo, believed by many to be one of the best ‘€” if not the best ‘€” offensive tackle in this year’€™s draft ‘€” spent much of his time getting some hands-on work with Scarnecchia and Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty. Afterward, he said he was happy with the way things turned out.

‘€œI think it went real well,’€ said Castonzo, who measured 6-foot-7 and 313 pounds on Wednesday. ‘€œIt was just about what I expected. The coaches kind of let us know that it was going to be pretty intense work in a short amount of time, and we just got through everything.’€

Castonzo was noncommittal about who he has spoken to, but did acknowledge that he has talked with the Patriots. He certainly sounded happy for the chance to work with Scarnecchia.

“He was coaching us up,” Castonzo said. “It was like a practice. It wasn’t like he was running us through drills, it was like he was actually coaching us. It was nice. I actually learned some stuff today.”

As for Herzlich, he remains  one of the most inspirational stories in college football the last few seasons. The linebacker battled cancer, but after missing the entire 2009 season, returned to the field last fall and played all 13 games in 2010, finishing third on the team with 65 tackles and 50 solo stops.

‘€œThings went well. ‘€¦  I felt good ‘€” I think that’€™s the biggest thing. I think position drills went well too,’€ Herzlich said after a workout that ran for more than two hours. ‘€œI feel great, health-wise. That’€™s something I am positive about. I have no issues right now. I’€™ve been checked out by 32 team physicians and a bunch of other doctors, and I’€™m fine.’€

As for local connections, Herzlich sounds like he’€™d welcome the chance to continue playing in New England.

‘€œI know about the Patriots from TV and ESPN, and from what I know, they have a great system, a great work ethic, great coaches. A lot like Boston College,’€ he said. ‘€œBut it’€™s all about getting into the right system and making whatever system I go to work.’€

Read More: Anthony Castonzo, Dante Scarnecchia, Mark Herzlich, Pat Flaherty

New edition of the It Is What It Is Cast: Breaking down the draft, post-combine

03.22.11 at 3:19 pm ET
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In the latest edition of the “It Is What It Is Cast,” Christopher Price and DJ Bean discuss the latest happenings regarding the NFL draft, including which one-time fit might not be as logical for the Patriots, and whether Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo is this year’s best offensive tackle. Also discussed are the Patriots’ preferences when it comes to drills and why a 26-year-old player with limited experience could be worth a first-round pick. To listen or download, click here.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Anthony Castonzo, Christopher Price, Danny Watkins

NFL owners approve changes in kickoffs

03.22.11 at 2:10 pm ET
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NFL owners voted Tuesday to move kickoffs to the 35-yard line instead of the 30, but keep touchbacks coming out to the 20. In addition, owners also have decided to allow the number of players in a blocking wedge to remain at two.

Prior to Tuesday’s vote, the league’s competition committee proposed placing the ball at the 25 after touchbacks on kickoffs and banning the wedge altogether.

Several coaches expressed concern about making too many changes to kickoffs, saying bringing touchbacks out five more yards would affect field position too much. Coaches also worried about an increase in touchbacks.

Owners voted to make all scoring plays reviewable by the replay official and referee.

Matt Light: Players are simply seeking ‘fair split’ of the revenues

03.22.11 at 1:35 pm ET
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Patriots player representative Matt Light said Tuesday morning the players aren’€™t asking for more money than they have in the past, but instead a ‘€œfair split’€ of the roughly $9 billion in revenue that the NFL generates annually. Speaking on WAAF’€™s ‘€œHill-Man Morning Show’€ (click here to listen to the full interview), Light outlined two of the major sticking points that remain between the sides in the work stoppage that has now stretched into a second full week.

‘€œHealth care is a big one. We don’€™t have any guaranteed heath care. Everybody understands what these guys go through ‘€” you see guys struggle when it comes to their health, five, six, 10, 20 years after football,’€ Light said. ‘€œThe way it stands right now, none of us have any health care. The other way that’s set up is that usually, in the old agreement, guys who have health care for five years after they retire, after they were done playing, then you could go out, and hopefully at that point, you’€™d have a job, and they’€™re trying to take that away. Heath care is a big issue.

‘€œAnd then the second point is just really a fair split of the revenue. That’€™s all we’re asking. The reports are that we get 60 percent. That’€™s ludicrous. It’s an accounting nightmare. We get, right now, it’€™s a fair split. It’s 50-50. We get 50 percent of all revenue. They talk about total revenue. Again, nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants to get involved with all that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, it’€™s a fair split, and that’€™s all we’€™re asking moving forward.

‘€œThere are so many points to go over, but as I’€™ve said in the past, the minute that the NFL is ready to get a deal done, we’€™ll get a deal done. It’€™ll happen probably real quickly as well. It’€™ll be a two-, three-day period where they actually come, they’€™re ready to work on it, they’€™re ready to make a fair split, and we’€™re willing to do that. And we have the people ready to make those decisions today.’€
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Read More: De Maurice Smith, lockout, Matt Light,

Jonathan Kraft: I hope Tom Brady was ‘conflicted’ about lawsuit

03.21.11 at 9:21 pm ET
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Speaking at the league meetings in New Orleans, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said he hoped New England quarterback Tom Brady was ‘€œconflicted’€ before he made the decision to be a part of the NFL Players Association antitrust lawsuit against the league.

‘€œOn a personal level, myself ‘€” and I think every member of my family ‘€” feels extremely close to Tom. I’€™d like to think Tom was conflicted before he made that decision, but you’€™d have to talk to Tom about it,’€ Kraft told reporters on Monday. ‘€œHe obviously feels like, I guess, that he made a business decision that was the right thing for him. I’€™d like to think he was conflicted in making it, but I don’€™t know that. I haven’€™t talked to him about it, so he didn’€™t consult me when he was making it.’€

Read More: Jonathan Kraft, Tom Brady,

Bill Belichick not a fan of kickoff proposal

03.21.11 at 2:54 pm ET
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Bill Belichick — in New Orleans for the annual NFL owners’ meetings — said Monday that he is not a fan of the NFL Competition Committee’s new kickoff proposal, which would move the kickoffs to the 35-yard line.

“It’s a pretty complicated proposal,” Belichick told Mike Reiss of ESPN. “I don’t like the idea of eliminating the kickoff [return] from the game. I think it’s one of the most exciting plays in football. It looks like the Competition Committee is trying to eliminate that play. I don’t know if that’s really good for the game.”

Player safety, according to the Competition Committee, is a key factor in the proposed kickoff move. Belichick seemed skeptical when asked if he thought player safety was the reason for the proposed adjustment.

“The presentation last night, I don’t know that it’s because of head injuries,” Belichick told ESPN. “The ones they showed, there weren’t very many of them. I don’t know, I think you should talk to the Competition Committee. They are the ones that really proposed the rule. Talk to Rich McKay and whoever else is on the committee and see what they have to say about it. There are a lot of components to it — four different elements to it. It’s kind of a complicated rule.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,

Mock Draft, Take 6: Could Robert Quinn go first overall?

03.21.11 at 12:14 am ET
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We’€™ve got a new No. 1 pick in the latest edition of the WEEI.com mock draft, and it wouldn’€™t be surprising to see it continue to change as we get closer. That’s generally the kind of madness that occurs when there isn’t a quarterback worthy of the top pick in a given year. Last year, it was only a matter of time before people realized Sam Bradford should have been the first overall pick. This year, there isn’t that simple solution, as Blaine Gabbert is very good, but not special.

Meanwhile, two of the Patriots’€™ first three picks are different from the last edition, and Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo is moving up.

1. Carolina (2-14) Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina Da’€™Quan Bowers was hanging on by a thread to the top spot, and with word emerging that teams are concerned with his knee, he drops out of this position for the first time. Some have Cam Newton going in this spot, but I don’€™t buy it. The last time the Panthers were in this situation was 2002. They had to choose between a quarterback who was not a slam-dunk (Joey Harrington) and a star pass-rusher (Julius Peppers). Marty Hurney and the Panthers chose correctly last time, and they would be correct to go with the pass-rusher (who just so happens to be a local guy) this time.

2. Denver (4-12) Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU If you can come out of a draft with the best player, it’€™s not a bad thing at all. That’€™s exactly what will happen for the Broncos if they opt to grab Peterson. He would start alongside Champ Bailey immediately, and take over as the No. 1 when the 32-year-old (he’€™ll be 33 at the start of next season) decides to retire. Given his talent, it wouldn’€™t be surprising it all to see Peterson have as big an impact as Bailey has had over the course of his career.

3. Buffalo (4-12) Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M Not to ogle a linebacker’€™s 40 time, but a sub-4.5 40 at Miller’€™s Pro Day only confirms that the Butkus Award winner can get to the quarterback in a hurry. Miller’€™s addition would give the Bills a type of exciting player on defense that they simply don’€™t have. The only question is his size, but he hasn’€™t been stopped in the past. With the Bills planning on being scheme diverse this season, Miller should be able to fit in both the 3-4 and 4-3.

4. Cincinnati (4-12) Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Perhaps ignored in the midst of the whole Cam Newton debate is how good Gabbert actually is. He is by no means a top-tier quarterback, but he is the only signal-caller in this draft that seems a safe bet to be a solid starter in the league throughout his career. In a quarterback class this weak, that goes a long way. Carson Palmer apparently means business with his demand to be moved, so if the Bengals end having to do so once a new CBA is in place, it makes sense to grab a quarterback here.

5. Arizona (5-11) Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama There isn’€™t much not to like about Dareus, but because he’€™s clearly this draft’€™s best five-technique prospect, he might be a better choice for a 3-4 team. Some like him to go as high as No. 1 overall, but since Ron Rivera is sticking with a 4-3 defense, Quinn makes more sense for the Panthers than Dareus if they want an end. That being said, the Cardinals would have to be ecstatic to see Dareus available at No. 5.

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Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, A.J. Green, Aaron Williams, Aldon Smith
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